“24) Now to him who is able to keep you from stumbling and to present you blameless before the presence of his glory with great joy, 25) to the only God, our Savior, through Jesus Christ our Lord, be glory, majesty, dominion, and authority, before all time and now and forever. Amen.”
It’s so easy to worry about how we have often failed God. I know I have failed to uphold His commandments, love Him with everything that I am, and fully glorify Him in every situation many times in my life. The common result of doing such things is to reflect and review’s one life. How can we do things better? How should we fix things? Will it be better if I do this or that? What new book or method should I find that will work to change me?
We do all of this without realizing that we are looking to others and ourselves. We are trying to find an answer that isn’t there but looking to the latest fad or some inner-strength that simply does not exist. We give into the popular slogans that tell us “We can do it” and that we just have push forward, depend on ourselves, and we can do anything we set our minds to if we just try hard enough.
One problem with this is that it creates a false reliance on self that is destined to fail. When we look within ourselves or to the media or any number of similar things, they may show promise and short-term effect, but they will always fail us, whether in this life or the next. Having an optimistic, can-do attitude will not earn your salvation or bring you true happiness on this earth. Christ didn’t say believe in yourself but believe in him.
Instead, we should turn our eyes to a God who is able to conquer all things because He is in control of all things. There is nothing that can stand against or concur our God so all of our hope and faith must be put in Him rather than anything we can do or achieve. It is within His mighty strength that we find the salvation of our souls and the strength to carry on through all the tribulations of the world.
We will find true worship and true praise when we focus on the attributes and nature of God rather than our moral failings. We should seek to improve and grow closer to God everyday, and we cannot forget the state God has saved us from, but our main focus should be centered on who God is and what He has done for us rather than who we are or what have attempted to do for Him. If we focus on ourselves, then our worship will be focused on ourselves because we will try to praise any miniscule things we have done, but if we focus on the God that has saved us, then our worship will be centered on the God who has redeemed us through the precious blood of Christ who was the propitiation of our sins.
1. A God who is able to keep us from stumbling
Notice that it says he is “able” to keep us from stumbling. This means that He has the power and the capacity. Ephesians 1:19 says, “and what is the immeasurable greatness of his power toward us who believe, according to the working of his great might” This is the great power that He is working towards us. It is immeasurable and unstoppable.
Philippians 3:21 says, “who will transform our lowly body to be like his glorious body, by the power that enables him even to subject all things to himself.” This power is able to subject all things to Him including sin and death. Colossians 2:12 says, “having been buried with him in baptism, in which you were also raised with him through faith in the powerful working of God, who raised him from the dead.” This was the same power that God worked in Christ when He raised Him from the dead. When Christ was brought back to life, all sin and death were defeated. That is the power of God that is working for us and is able to keep us from stumbling.
Is God capable of keeping us from sinning? Genesis 20 tells the story of Abraham traveling to Gerar and telling the people there that Sarah was his sister rather than his wife. Abimilech, the ruler of the area, saw her great beauty and decided to take her in. God then came to Abimelech in a dream and told him the truth about Sarah. Abimelech said that he was innocent and did not know that Sarah was Abraham’s wife. God responds in a dream, “Yes, I know that you have done this in the integrity of your heart, and it was I who kept you from sinning against me. Therefore I did not let you touch her” (Genesis 20:6).
This does not mean that we will not still occasionally stumble. We do not live morally perfect lives and we will not live such lives while on this earth. We are still tainted by sin and have not received our glorified bodies. Until then we will continually struggle, fight, and occasionally give into sin. God keeping us from stumbling does not mean that we will never sin, but He will be there to pick us up.
This verse only says that God is “able” to keep us from stumbling. This means that there may be times that God allows us to stumble, but every time this happens it is for our greatest good (Romans 8:28, James 1:2-4). A very similar story to that of the tale of Abraham and Abimelech happens in Genesis 12. Abram (his name had not been changed yet) went into Egypt and the princes of Egypt praised Sarai’s beauty to Pharaoh, so Pharaoh decides to take her in as well. God does not prevent Pharaoh from sinning and then brings judgment upon Pharaoh and Egypt. Pharaoh seems to have been just as innocent as Abimelech was, so the difference does not lie with the actions of man but with God’s will.
If the actions lie with God, then shouldn’t we think He may decide to let us fall and never pick us up? John 10:28 says, “I give them eternal life, and they will never perish, and no one will snatch them out of my hand.” We will never lose our salvation because it is not dependant on what we do but on God who holds onto us. He will never let go and no one can or will take us out of His hand. We are not even able to take ourselves out of His hand because He holds onto us so tightly. If we were to desperately hold onto a branch in order to not fall, our strength would eventually fail us. We would eventually have to let go just to find that that our arm was stuck in the branch, and it wouldn’t have allowed us to fall in the first place.
The Greek word for “stumbling” (ἂπταιστος) is where we derive the English word for apostasy or apostate. Jude is saying that God is in control of keeping our salvation secure. We cannot fall away or run away from the grace of God because He is able to keep us from doing so.
If God does not have this great power, then we should be very much afraid. “If the Lord can’t hold on to me, what hope is there? If salvation isn’t God’s work, then I’m not going to get there. Do you understand that? If it’s not His work and He doesn’t hold me, and He doesn’t keep me, and He doesn’t preserve me, I won’t make it. If God doesn’t save me, I can’t save myself. If He doesn’t sanctify me, I can’t sanctify myself. And if He doesn’t glorify me, I can’t glorify myself. If He doesn’t keep me, I can’t keep myself. I’m not good enough to save myself and I’m certainly not good enough to keep myself. I will never be worthy of salvation. I wasn’t in the past, I’m not now” (http://www.gty.org/Resources/Sermons/65-15_The-Saints-Guarantee).
We would fail to hold on to God if He did not hold onto us. We are nowhere close to being good enough or righteous enough to hold on to him, but we would constantly choose our own sinful desires and passions over His, if it were not for the wonderful work of Christ. Our salvation and the sustaining of our salvation is not dependant on our good works or our righteousness but on God’s mighty power.
If we are responsible for holding on to our salvation rather than God holding onto us, then we will receive glory for doing so, but God pursues His own glory rather than ours. If the guarantee of our salvation is dependent on us rather than God, then when we get to heaven we could brag about what a great job we did rather than glorify God for the wonderful work He did in us.
If God is able to keep us from stumbling, then this means we are to live in a radical obedience to the calling He has for our life. We cannot say, “God, I do not know if I will succeed,” because God has already won the battle for us. This is not success or prosperity on this earth. It does not mean that we will always have food to eat, a house to live in, or good health, but it does mean that every task He has planned for our lives in order to spread the gospel will be accomplished. There is no plan of His that will fail in our lives, so we must trust in Him to see us through.
1 Corinthians 10:13, “No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man. God is faithful, and he will not let you be tempted beyond your ability, but with the temptation he will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it.” This verse does not mean that there are some situations in which God will never put us in because they are beyond our strength. This verse means that every situation we walk into will not be able to conquer us because we are not dependant on our strength but on His mighty strength.
2. A God who is able to present us blameless
Not only is God able to keep us from stumbling, but also He is able to present us blameless. Colossians 1:22 says, “he has now reconciled in his body of flesh by his death, in order to present you holy and blameless and above reproach before him.”
Ephesians 5:25-27 says, “Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her, that he might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word, so that he might present the church to himself in splendor, without spot or wrinkle or any such thing, that she might be holy and without blemish.” The way He has presented us blameless is by sending His son to die for our sins.
There are many different standards within our world of what is wrong and right. Many of us may be considered “good” people under many of these standards. We may live lives that are far beyond these standards and even be considered great people. These standards are not the same as God’s standard. These standards allow for a little cursing here and there, a drink or two, and some sexual immorality. These standards say that we aren’t that bad if we only commit a few small sins. God’s standard says that if we commit just one sin, regardless of how big or small we may deem it to be, then we are guilty of His wrath.
Romans 3:23 says, “for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” None of us have succeeded in upholding His righteous standard. If any of you are so bold as to think that you have, then ask yourself if you have ever sinned. You may not have physically murdered someone or stolen millions of dollars, but you probably have lied at least once. Even the smallest sin makes us blameworthy and tainted with sin unable to enter His holy presence.
He has redeemed us and cleansed us through the precious blood of Christ so that we may come “before the presence of his glory.” His glory is matchless and holy, while we are blemished sinners. We are now cleansed and made blameless so that we can enter into His holy presence. This is not just right standing before an earthly judge, but the perfect, holy judge of heaven and earth. This same glory would have killed us if we saw it on this earth. God had to place His hand over Moses as His glory passed over Him so that Moses wouldn’t die (Exodus 33).
Hebrews 4:16, “Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.” We can enter these holy places because of the blood of Jesus (Hebrews 10:19). We can even enter and “draw near the throne grace” with great confidence. This confidence does not come from anything we have done but from the precious blood of Christ that has made us blameless.
This shows that is he who makes us blameless. We are called to repent and turn from our sins but this repentance would mean nothing if not for Christ sacrifice. We would still be seen as sinners tainted and blemished if Christ did not live and die to be our intercessor and mediator. Since Christ gave his life for us, God sees us as His beloved children that are forgiven of all of their wrongdoing (1 John 3:1).
We now see that the promise of God being able to keep us from stumbling not only applies to after we are saved but before we are saved as well because we are unable to present ourselves before Him as blameless. There is nothing we can do to make ourselves blameless or pure, and this verse points out that it is totally the work of God that makes us blameless. He reconciles us to Himself and presents us as blameless by grace through faith, which are both gifts from Him. Cleansing is completely the work of God.
Who is He presenting us blameless before? He is presenting us blameless before Himself. No judge on this earth can judge our souls or condemn our spirits, but God is able to send us to an eternity in hell to experience His wrath and judgment. He is the judge we must fear, but He has sent Christ to stand in our defense and plead our case because of His blood. God presents us blameless before Himself. This means that we should first fear Him because of the power He holds, but then recognize that He has saved us and reconciled us, which is cause for great joy and love for Him.
Now that we can enter His holy, righteous presence, we have reason for “great joy.” The God that created the universe is the same God that we have rebelled and sinned against, but He is also the same God that sent His son in order that He might forgive us of our sins. What greater joy can be found than this? Having this knowledge is one of the greatest reasons for rejoicing and great joy.
3. A God who is able to save us
Philippians 2:12-13 says, “Therefore, my beloved, as you have always obeyed, so now, not only as in my presence but much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who works in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure.” These verses give us an exhortation to “work out [our] own salvation,” which may at first seem to say that salvation is based on our works and that we better not fail, but then it gives the reassurance that God works in us to bring it about. We cannot fail to uphold working out our salvation just as we cannot stumble because God is mightily working in us to save us (Zephaniahs 3:17).
Just because salvation is the work of God this does not excuse us from our responsibility in following Him. We cannot just sit on the couch all day watching television and say that God has saved us. God has saved us so that we may follow Him and do good works for His name (Ephesians 2:10).
Romans 16:25 says, “Now to him who is able to strengthen you according to my gospel and the preaching of Jesus Christ, according to the revelation of the mystery that was kept secret for long ages.” It says that God is able to strengthen us according to the gospel, which means that He saves us and sanctifies us through Christ. Our redemption and strength are found at Calvary.
We have just seen God’s mighty power revealed in the fact that He is “able to keep us from stumbling,” but why does it take this sacrifice to present us blameless? If God is so powerful, then couldn’t He just have “forgiven” us of our sins without sending Christ to die on the cross? Couldn’t He just say, “forgiven,” and it would happen? Romans 3:23-26 says, “for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and are justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, whom God put forward as a propitiation by his blood, to be received by faith. This was to show God’s righteousness, because in his divine forbearance he had passed over former sins. It was to show his righteousness at the present time, so that he might be just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus.” God’s righteousness must be called into question if He does not punish sin. If we say that God is love but deny that He is a righteous judge, then we do not understand what it means to say that God is love. If I love my child but do nothing to stop someone trying to hurt them, then I do not truly love my child. If God does not hate the opposite of love, which is hate itself, then He is not a God of love.
The very nature of forgiveness is to take the penalty due another into oneself. “Forgiveness means bearing the cost instead of making the wrongdoer do it, so you can reach out in love seek your enemy’s renewal and change. Forgiveness means absorbing the debt of the sin yourself…Why did Jesus have to die in order to forgive us? There was a debt to be paid—God Himself paid it. There was a penalty to be born God himself bore it. Forgiveness is always a form of costly suffering” (The Reason for God, 199-200).
If someone were to damage my property, then I would be “just” forgiving him or her if I paid for the damage that they did to my property. In doing so I would be dieing to self in some small way and paying for the penalty that they owed. I would be forgiving them, but I would also have to pay the money that they owed. Forgiveness requires a sacrifice of some kind.
A key component that we cannot overlook is that it was God Himself who was the propitiation. He did not ask another to endure the pain, but He sent His son, who was of the same essence but not the same person, to be the propitiation. Instead of someone damaging my property, let’s say that I wreck my car. I take it to get fix, and after they have fixed it, they tell me that I do not need to pay for it. They now exemplify both the one that demands the debt and the one that fulfills it just as God demands righteousness and wrath poured out upon sin and fulfills it by sending His Son, which was He, to fulfill both requirements. “It is crucial at this point to remember that the Christian faith has always understood that Jesus Christ is God. God did not, then, inflict pain on someone else, but rather on the Cross absorbed the pain, violence, and evil of the world into himself” (The Reason for God. 200).
Hebrews 7:25 says, “Consequently, he is able to save to the uttermost those who draw near to God through him, since he always lives to make intercession for them.” He is able to “save” us “to the uttermost.” There is nothing that can stop him or prevent him from saving us and redeeming our lives. Every sin and transgression will be forgiven and his love will fill our lives.
It is him alone that is able to save us. We will not find salvation anywhere else but in God through Christ revealed to us by the Spirit. We cannot look to the world or material things to save us because they will fail us. We cannot look to others or to false gods because they will only corrupt us even more. We cannot even look to ourselves because we have no good in us apart from God and cannot earn or achieve our salvation through any works we do or possess.
4. A God that is worthy of praise
These final verses start with a dedication to God. It starts with “now to him,” which reveals that this entire epistle and final verses are for God and His glory. The “now” does not mean that Jude wasn’t dedicating it to God earlier in the epistle and has just started, but he says this in order to bring the audience’s focus back to God and His mighty works. Instead of just describing the abilities and power of God, Jude is praising God for the mighty works He has done and able to do.
These last two verses are the doxology, which means word of praise or praise word, of Jude. They are so beautiful that they almost should just be read with no explanation. Doxologies are abundant throughout the Old and the New Testament. Most, if not all, of the doxologies of the New Testament speak of salvation and the gospel because this is the greatest work God has done in our life. This doxology also speaks of God’s work in salvation.
If we were to doubt or ask if such a God is worthy of praise, then we must look no farther than this list of His incredible, undeniable attributes. First, He is the “only God” and there is no God beside Him. This means that He can actually help us, but other gods can do nothing. When speaking of material idols, Isaiah 44:18 says, “They know not, nor do they discern, for he has shut their eyes, so that they cannot see, and their hearts, so that they cannot understand.” Elijah even mocks the prophets of Baal that were unable to summon him because he did not exist (1 Kings 18:27).
All of the greatest attributes belong to such a God. All “glory, majesty, dominion, and authority” are His. He has ultimate authority and is in control of all things at all times. There is nothing outside of His dominion or authority and nothing that can stand against Him or thwart Him. This means that all “glory” belong to Him and Him alone. If we are to praise anything else, then we offer our praise to a far lesser being that is unworthy of any praise because God alone is worthy of all glory and honor and praise.
His power, glory, and authority are timeless. The verse continues with “before all time and now and forever.” The Father, Son, and Spirit all came before the beginning of the heavens and the earth (Genesis 1:1, John 1:1). They have always existed and there has never been a point in which they have not existed. This means that they have always had authority and have always been worthy of all glory and honor and praise. They are currently in complete control and will always be in control. There will never come a time when God’s power runs out or another grows more powerful than He. He will be eternally in control and no one will ever be able to stand against Him.
This leads to a time of complete praise by Jude. We see that by reflecting over the character of God and His nature drives us to great praise of who He is and what He has done. Instead of focusing on moral improvement we focus on the nature and character of God, we will enter into a time of true worship and praise because our intention will be directed towards God rather than ourselves. When we only seek to improve ourselves or live better lives rather than focusing on who God is, then we become self-centered and lose focus on God. Our attention should constantly be captivated by the character and nature of God found in Scripture.
If our salvation is dependent on God who is able, then shouldn’t we be terrified of this God? The short answer is yes, but this is overlooking a very important factor. This same God has already sent His son because of the great love He had for us. “If God were not just, then there would be no demand for his Son to suffer and die. And if God were not loving, there would be no willingness for his Son to suffer and die” (Fifty Reasons Why Jesus Came to Die, 20). Romans 8:32 adds, “He who did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all, how will he not also with him graciously give us all things?” He has already shown us this incredible love, so why would we ever doubt that He would not continue to love us and protect us? This mighty of God is working for us rather than against us, so whom can stand against us? (Romans 8:31).